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The Falling Asleep in the Lord of Fr. Thomas Ruffin

It is with sadness that we announce the falling asleep in the Lord of the Very Reverend Thomas Ruffin on Saturday, June 23, 2007. (read more about the life of Fr. Thomas here)

Fr. Tom will lie in state at the Basilica of St. Mary, 18100 Merriman Rd., Livonia, MI 48152 on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 from 2:00pm to 9:00pm. The priest’s funeral service will begin at 7:30pm on Wednesday. Fr. Tom will lie in state at the Basilica on Thursday, June 28th from 9:00am to 10:00am. The funeral liturgy will begin at 10:00am followed by a meal of mercy at St. Mary’s Cultural Center. After the meal, there will be a procession to the cemetery. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations to be made to the Iconography Project at the Basilica of St. Mary.

For those who are traveling, please call the following hotels for reservations; Marriott Hotel 734-462-3100 or the Courtyard by Marriott at 734-462-2000. These hotels are approximately 10 minutes from the church.

May his Memory be Eternal!

June 24, 2007

Very Reverend Father Thomas Ruffin

The Very Reverend Father Thomas Ruffin who served our Orthodox community for over 54 years fell asleep in the Lord on Saturday, June 23, 2007.

Born in Oklahoma in 1927, Father Tom was raised in Iowa by Lebanese parents.

Father Tom is survived by his wife Sally Ruffin nee Zakaib of Charleston, West Virginia, who cared for him with grace until his death; four children: Gregory and Colleen, Helena, Philip and Terri, and Paula; four grandchildren: Kelsey, Zachary, Madison, and Hannah, sisters Velma Sleem and Betty Haddad and many nieces and nephews.

After graduating from The University of Iowa, he studied at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary in Massachusetts where ordination as an Orthodox priest occurred in 1953.

His first assignment with the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese was with St. George in Worcester, Massachusetts, as an assistant pastor.

After five years he transferred to Detroit, Michigan, as pastor at St. George. While at St. George, he oversaw its first major building project. He was president of the Detroit area Eastern Orthodox Clergy Association as well as the spiritual and inspirational advisor to the newly formed Wayne State University Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

In 1970, Father Tom transferred to Tucson, Arizona, then to Orinda, California, and next to Los Altos Hills, California, at the Orthodox Church of the Redeemer where he served his final fourteen years as a full-time parish priest. He was particularly proud of implementing the iconography in the sanctuary at Church of the Redeemer. He also served at St. Ignatius in Windsor, Ontario and was an attached priest at the Basilica of St. Mary for many years.

During the years of his ministry he held the position of Exarch and performed as a special advisor to the late Archbishop ANTONY Bashir and the current Archbishop PHILIP Saliba. Fr. Tom traveled extensively for his Church throughout the United States and the Middle East.

He served as Chairman of the National Association of Arab-Americans, a Washington based lobby for justice and peace in the Middle East. Presidents, governors, mayors, senators, congressmen, ambassadors, and the media found a ready and sturdy friend in Father Tom.

For years he was Chairman of the Archdiocese Departments of Convention Conference Planning and Statistics Credentials. Fr. Tom was a past president of the Antiochian Archdiocese Clergy Association and nationally recognized in Life Magazine for fighting poverty in Detroit.

Father Tom carried a strong presence in the Antiochian Church. We will fondly remember his love for his family, quick sense of humor and zest for life. Loyal to his friends, his passing leaves a vacuum. His charismatic preaching touched the lives of all who attended his worship services.

May Father Tom’s memory be eternal.


Memorials in lieu of flowers may be donated to the Iconography Project at The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan.